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Forum staff reports, Published October 31 2012

Forks air defense unit alerted for deployment

GRAND FORKS – The most-deployed unit in the North Dakota Army National Guard since the 9/11 attacks has been told to prepare to be sent on a mission in the United States, the Guard announced Tuesday.

The 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, based in Grand Forks with detachments in Fargo and Bismarck, is preparing to mobilize in May for a yearlong mission in Washington, D.C.

More than 200 of the unit’s troops will work as part of the integrated air defense system protecting the airspace in and around the nation’s capital as part of what is called Operation Noble Eagle.

The 1/188th is led by Lt. Col. Jon Erickson, of Bismarck. Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin Zimmerman, of West Fargo, is the senior enlisted leader.

It will be the 10th deployment for the unit in less than a decade. The 1/188th ADA most recently deployed to Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping mission in 2009-10.

Before that, portions of the unit deployed six times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.